Tires screeched, and then came the thud that told the neighborhood something horrible had happened.
Mario Langley, 29, ran from his doorway Friday afternoon to find a little girl lying motionless in the street, struck by a hit-and-run driver in a silver Dodge Magnum.
Veronica Ford, 4, was slightly ahead of her mother, Benita Desir, 20, when the two stepped out from in front of a county shuttle bus to cross Northwest 60th Avenue near 16th Place, police said. That's when the Magnum, heading north, drove into the opposite lane of traffic to pass the bus, slammed into Veronica and kept going.
"I picked her up but there was ... no response. Her body was like real rubber band-like," Langley said, his white tank top stained with the girl's blood. "I proceeded by giving her mouth-to-mouth. I gave her heart pumps ... No response. I think she died on impact."
Desir, uninjured from the noontime crash, went into hysterics and repeatedly threw herself on the pavement, witnesses said.
Veronica was her only child.
The two were returning to their home along 60th Avenue from a trip to McDonald's, witnesses said. The contents of the red, white and yellow paper sack Veronica carried in her hand littered the street after the crash.
Dominic Zachery, 28, a neighbor who said his 2-year-old son was a playmate of Veronica's, also ran to the crash scene.
"When I saw the little girl, she was foaming at the mouth," he said. "My friend was doing CPR. I couldn't bear it, so I left."
Sunrise Fire-Rescue took Veronica to Broward General Medical Center, in Fort Lauderdale, where doctors officially pronounced her dead, police said.
Doctors then prescribed Desir and her mother sedatives, relatives said Friday evening.
Meanwhile, authorities continued to search for the silver Magnum, which witnesses said had a temporary tag.
Witnesses said they lost sight of the car after the driver turned east onto Northwest 16th Place almost immediately after hitting Veronica.
Langley added that he noticed chrome rims on the car and he thought the driver was male, but he could not make out the number on the temporary tag.
If authorities are eventually able to get the tag number of the Magnum and find the car, they then will have to try to determine who was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper John Baker, who is not directly involved in the Sunrise investigation. Tracking people down is another part of the battle, he said.
The driver who struck Veronica could face a felony hit-and-run charge, said Lt. Roger Torres, Sunrise police spokesman. The charge carries a punishment of up to five years in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
Anyone with information on the hit-and-run is asked to call Sunrise police at 954-746-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.
Sofia Santana can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4631.